Tigers moving on to state softball | RecordCourier.com

Tigers moving on to state softball

Jasmine McNinch gets a base hit for the Tigers in a win over the Manogue Miners Friday during regional play in Reno.

In recent years, the Douglas High softball has had numerous close calls in its quest to return to the NIAA state tournament. And despite absorbing a 9-3 loss against Spanish Springs in the Northern 4A Region tournament finals on Monday afternoon in Reno, the Tigers returned home with the consolation of knowing they had broken through to achieve their state tournament goal for the first time since 2004.

Thanks to a heart-stopping 6-5 win against tournament-host Bishop Manogue on Saturday, Douglas (24-11-1 overall record) earned a shot at Spanish Springs (30-3) in the region finals and clinched a state berth. The Tigers continued their momentum later on Saturday afternoon when they took an early 3-0 lead against Spanish Springs, however, play was called in the home half of the fourth inning due to rain.

The top-seeded Cougars only needed one inning to turn that momentum around on Monday, as they scored eight runs in the fifth to take control against the No. 3 seeded Tigers at Bishop Manogue High.

Rylee Retzer hit a leadoff single and scored to spark the Cougars' fifth inning rally and Aubrey Parks tied the score on a two-out, two-run double. Courtney Huff drove in the go-ahead run with a single, Hunter Travers added a two-run double and Retzer followed with a long two-run homer to right-center field to make it 8-3. Retzer's three-run homer was also decisive on Friday when Spanish Springs edged past the Tigers, 4-3, in the winner's bracket finals.

Before rain halted play on Saturday, Haley Doughty hit a full-count pitch for a two-run homer to center field to put Douglas top 2-0 in the top of the first inning. The Tigers made it 3-0 in the second when Alyssa Smokey hit a leadoff single to right field and came home on Kendal Moore's two-out double to right field.

Spanish Springs ace Tyra Clary allowed three runs on five hits over seven innings to earn credit for the win. The North's Pitcher of the Year as a freshman in 2017, set down nine straight batters when she returned to the pitcher's circle on Monday.

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Earlier on Saturday, Douglas was able to get past No. 2 seed Manogue despite giving up five errors and stranding 13 base runners, 10 in scoring position. Doughty and Chloie Pratt hit back-to-back homers to break a 3-all tie in the fifth inning and center fielder Mackenzie Brixie threw out the potential game-tying run from center field to end the game in the bottom of the seventh.

Amanda Hoffman pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the sixth and seventh innings to help the Tigers preserve their win. Hoffman finished with her second complete game victory in as many days — this time a nine-hitter and eight strikeouts — against a potent Manogue lineup.

Pratt slammed a three-run homer in the first inning to stake Douglas to a 3-0 lead.

The Miners answered with two runs in the bottom of the first and tied the score with another run in the third.

After Doughty and Pratt homered in the fifth, Kettja Bennett added an RBI double later in the inning to extend the lead to 6-3.

The Tigers left the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and then Hoffman escaped from a bases loaded jam in the bottom half of the inning when she retired Miners' cleanup hitter Bailey McLaughlin on a fly ball to right field.

There was even more excitement in the seventh. Manogue's Hannah Blas led off the inning with a single, Michaela King drew a one-out walk and Alli Tallman reached on a ground ball error to load the bases. Next up, Hoffman induced a fielder's choice grounder to Casey Peck at third base for the second out. Chelie Senini followed with a ground ball single to center field that drove one run home, however, Brixey charged in to field the ball cleanly and threw a strike to Pratt at the plate to cut down Manogue's runner for the game-ending putout.

Note: Douglas was bidding to win its first region softball title since 2004. Before that year, the last time Douglas played in a state tournament was 1993 at Lampe Park. The Tigers won back-to-back state large schools titles in 1991-92 and finished as the runner-up in 2004. … Doughty hit .450 (9-for-20) with four home runs in five tournament games; Smokey hit .471, Hoffman .412, Peck .375 and Bennett .357. Brixey had a .476 on-base percentage during the tournament.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: NIAA 4A State Softball Tournament.

WHEN: Thursday through Saturday.

WHERE: Bishop Manogue Catholic High School, Reno.

WHO: First round — Douglas Tigers (24-11-1) vs. Basic Wolves (26-11 Sunrise Region champion), 2 p.m.; Spanish Springs Cougars (30-3) vs. Shadow Ridge Mustangs (27-10, Sunset Region champion), 4:30 p.m.

NOTE: Douglas will be bidding for its first state softball championship since 1992.